Passengers should not expect airport liquidity limits to be lifted nationwide by 2024 because cash-strapped hubs may not have the money to install the new scanners needed, an expert has suggested.
It emerged today that the Department for Transport (DfT) has ordered major UK airports to install high-tech 3D CT scanners by 2024 that eliminate the need to remove liquids from bags at security points.
This means airports that meet the reported deadline will also lift rules that prevent passengers from taking drink and toiletry containers larger than 100ml on board flights.
The rules were first imposed in 2006, when a planned al-Qaida terror attack – using explosives made to look like soft drinks – against seven planes departing from Heathrow was foiled.
Former prime minister Boris Johnson promised in 2019 that liquid rules would be eased at major UK airports from the start of next month – but the new scanners are currently only being used on a small scale at airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham.
Now there is also a risk of missing the new deadline. Travel expert Simon Calder told MailOnline that although the new technology ‘works very well’, ‘it’s anyone’s guess’ that by 2024 the UK’s major airports will be in a position to ease the liquid rules.
‘The big problem is that enabling common standards, which are lighter than they currently are, would require tens of millions of pounds of investment in Britain’s beleaguered airports,’ he added.
Limits on taking more than 100ml of liquid through airport security are to be ‘axed’ at major UK airports by 2024 to speed up queues, it has been reported. Image: Passengers queue to enter airport security ahead of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend at Heathrow’s Terminal 5
It emerged today that the Department for Transport (DfT) has ordered major UK airports to install high-tech 3D CT scanners by 2024. Above: A 3D scanner is being delivered to checked baggage at Heathrow for use in Terminal 5 in 2019
Under the new rules, passengers will no longer have to remove laptops from hand luggage through airport security, the Times reported.
The new scanners, which use the same technology seen for hospital scans, will speed up queues at airport security as fliers face the longest delays for not taking items out of their bags or carrying drink and toiletry bottles above the permitted 100ml limit.
Current rules state that electronics such as laptops and tablets must be removed from cabin bags through security and all liquids must be in containers of 100ml or less and placed in a clear plastic bag.
In 2006 a planned terrorist attack by Al Qaeda against seven planes leaving Heathrow – using explosives made to look like soft drinks – contained liquids over 100ml banned at airport security.
3D computed topography scanners provide security officers with much more detailed images than current 2D scanners.
Mr Calder told MailOnline: ‘The technology is being used at various airports, including Heathrow, and all indications are that it works very well.
Passengers no longer have to remove laptops from hand luggage through airport security (file photo)
‘The big problem is that to enable common standards, which are lighter than they are at present, Britain’s struggling airports will need tens of millions of pounds of investment.
‘They were due to start next Thursday [December 1]They obviously missed that deadline.
‘Whether all major UK airports will be in a position to ease the liquid rules by 2024 is anyone’s guess.’
The potentially patchy rollout of new technologies, both in the UK and globally, may mean that there are multiple sets of different standards.
‘It may be good that you take your holiday flight from Gatwick or Manchester with fairly lenient rules, but when you come back the stricter rules apply,’ Mr Calder said.
‘It will cause frustration and retention.’
He added that the changes were ‘ridiculously delayed’.
‘Til it comes [the DFT’s 2024 rule] It was brought as a temporary response to the liquid rule after 18 years.’
However, the direction of DFT is yet to be confirmed.
Some airports in the British Isles have already removed liquid limits.
Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland allows ‘liquids, gels, pastes, lotions and cosmetics in containers of any size’ to be carried through security.
Rules barring passengers from taking drink and toiletry containers larger than 100ml on board flights will move to major UK airports for the first time since 2006. Image: Queues for airport security at Heathrow in April this year
Airport chief executive John Holland told The Times that more CT scanners would be installed in the security area of Heathrow’s Terminal 3.
He said they were ‘gradually rolling them out’ and by mid-2024 ‘common passengers will experience liquids in bags’ through airport security.
According to officials, the policy is under review at the DFT but no formal announcement has been made.
A DfT spokesman said: ‘Passengers should not carry containers of liquids larger than 100ml through security at UK airports and both liquids and electronics should be removed from cabin bags at airport security checkpoints.’